Open Letter: Cares Act, Arpa Funds, and Medford’s Proposal
The following is an open letter from Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn
Since March 2020, we have endured many challenges both individually and as a community. Dealing with a rapidly evolving and unforeseen global health crisis and a resulting economic recession required a multi-tiered approach, quick thinking, and creative budgeting to keep our community and our residents safe while also protecting our financial reserves.
Thankfully, we were able to protect our city’s financial future and even secured a AA+ bond rating with a “stable outlook” from our bond rating agency, in the midst of a national recession. The great news is that our bond rating was given before we even received the assistance provided through federal funding including both Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Both of these funding sources have since allowed us to address critical health and recovery issues in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the nearly $50 million we will continue to receive over the next three years in ARPA funding will continue to aid in our recovery and rebuilding efforts across a number of areas until 2026.
While CARES Act funding must be spent by October 29, 2021 (after an extension from December 2020), Medford’s allocation from ARPA will continue to be distributed over the next three fiscal years. We are planning a series of public discussions to help us determine how to spend the rest of this funding, but first we, like many surrounding communities, are in the process of hiring a Federal Funds Manager who will be critical in diving deeply into the process, understanding each area of eligible funds and how best to propose spending those dollars in the Medford community. This is your money, and you should know how it is being spent, where it’s being spent and why it is being spent, but being guided by a dedicated staff member with the expertise and experience in these matters will be critical in helping us make the best possible decisions, together. (For a breakdown of eligible spending buckets from the US Treasury, visit www.medfordma.org/arpa_spending-buckets.) In the meantime, there are critical needs that must be met now, so we have already targeted $8.6 million of our overall allocation for the most pressing needs within our FY22 budget.